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Afreximbank to Deliver 40m J&J Covid Vaccines to Nigeria

President of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, has disclosed that the bank will supply a total of 40 million doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN receives in audience, the executive delegation of Afrexim Bank led by its CEO Prof. Oramah at the Statehouse, Abuja. Photos; Tolani Alli

President of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, has disclosed that the bank will supply a total of 40 million doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria between now and 2022.

This is just as about 699,760 COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the United Kingdom (UK) have been received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Oramah, who made this known on Tuesday, while making a presentation on some of the bank’s projects to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja, stated that the bank was investing in trade and health infrastructure, and also involved in the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to African countries including Nigeria, to enable the continent achieve herd immunity.

The bank is also planning to establish National Quality Assurance Centres in parts of the country in order to support and upgrade export of commodities from Nigeria, Oramah added.

He declared that there is an arrangement under the Afreximbank facility to deliver 40 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria before the end of 2022.

According to him, the bank was committed to ensuring the continent achieves herd immunity by vaccinating about 60 per cent of Africa’s population against the disease.

He said Afreximbank plan to invest in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, including health, citing plans to build a world class tertiary hospital and health park in Abuja.

The bank CEO reiterated that the 500-bed state-of-the-art hospital would be developed in collaboration with Kings College Hospital in the UK, and other partners.

Responding after the bank’s presentation, Osinbajo commended the African Export-Import Bank for its efforts in stimulating and developing African trade, including its many engagements in Nigeria.

He expressed satisfaction with the work done by the bank and the interest shown in areas such as health infrastructure, trade facilitation and tourism, among others.

Referring to the proposed establishment of quality assurance centres across the country, the Vice President said it was important because, “one of the problems we have had with our exports is really this problem of quality assurance and making sure that we have the facilities to test our export products and get all of our agencies working together. I am sure that you have SON, NAFDAC, and all of our agencies working with you on this project.”

While thanking the bank for its support, Osinbajo noted that the federal government’s programmes in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector, particularly in the Shared Facility Initiative under the National MSMEs Clinic, are important and deserving of AFREXIM’s backing.

According to him, the initiative which is implemented in collaboration with state governments and aimed at developing manufacturing clusters across the country, could be enhanced through partnership with the bank.

Also, about 699,760 COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the UK have been received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

A statement by the British High Commission in Nigeria, on Tuesday, revealed that Nigeria unveiled 699,760 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines donated by the UK via the COVAX facility and flown into Abuja on Monday night.

The vaccines were unveiled at a cold storage unit near the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, with the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, joining the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, and the World Health Organisation Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo for the unveiling, alongside other dignitaries.

The vaccines delivered to Nigeria were part of the three million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the UK has donated to 11 countries across Africa to help the fight against COVID-19.

This included the 119, 200 doses sent to Zambia and the 51,840 sent to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 13 August; the 119,040 doses sent to Malawi on 14 August, the 140,160 doses sent to Senegal on 15 August, the 299,680 doses sent to Egypt on 16 August, and the 299,520 doses that will be delivered to Uganda today, August 18.

According to the statement, the shipments of the UK-donated doses were part of a broader pledge to share 100 million vaccines with the rest of the world, of which 80 per cent would be through COVAX.

The UK has continued to play a global role in promoting an effective roll-out of the vaccine, including being one of the largest COVAX donors and through its engagement with the Nigerian-led response.

In Nigeria, the UK has restructured its health and human development programming to support the country’s response and continued to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak across all nine pillars of the government’s incident action plans, through the UK Health Security agency, formerly the Public Health England (PHE) and FCDO’s Lafiya health programme in selected states, as well as direct technical engagement at federal level.

Speaking on the donation, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said: “Three million doses of UK-donated vaccines are now arriving in 11 countries across Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, to help the fight against COVID-19. This is the first batch of 80 million being donated via COVAX – because we know no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

The Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson said, “The UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX with £548 million. We have consistently pushed for a global effort that helps every country receive the vaccine against Covid-19. I am so pleased to see Nigeria receive 699,760 doses, donated by the UK, in their second batch of the vaccine through COVAX.

“This is the first tranche of the 1,299,760 doses expected to be donated by the UK through COVAX. Only by vaccinating more people around the world can we bring an end to the global coronavirus pandemic.”

Meanwhile, speaking on Arise News on Tuesday, Shuaib confirmed the receipt of the vaccines from the UK.

He urged those who had taken the first dose of the vaccines not to mix them or take a different brand, assuring that the jabs will eventually reach all those interested in taking them.

“It also very instructive that just last night, we got just over 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donation from the UK Government.

“And this will be an opportunity for us to actually give those Nigerians who had taken the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine their second doses, and we’re expecting additional doses from the COVAX facility, namely AstraZeneca and then Pfizer vaccine.

“The Pfizer vaccine amounts to about 3.5 million doses. We’re going to be getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the course of the next few months, terminating right around Q1 of 2022. Overall, we figure that we’ll be able to get close to 45 million doses of the different vaccines, and we’ll be able to give protection against the COVID-19 virus,” he stated.

He described the problem of access to COVID-19 vaccine as a global challenge, noting that rich nations had been hoarding large quantities of the vaccines for their populations, sometimes, close to 10 times what they actually require.

Shuaib stated that with the federal government engagements with countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and other countries, they had started releasing some of the vaccines that they hoarded.

According to him, with the 40 million J&J jabs being expected, Nigeria would be able to adequately vaccinate a sizeable part of its population, expressing joy that all of the vaccines being accessed by Nigeria are able to confer protection from severe disease, hospitalisation and death due to the Delta variant of the virus.

According to him, by Thursday, Lagos would be able to start vaccinations, saying the delay was caused by a thorough process of labelling and barcoding the vaccines so that they can be traced to the health facilities for accountability.

He pointed out that most of the states that have airports would be receiving their vaccines starting yesterday, while those that have no usable airport will have to go using road transport.

“So, all those people who have had their first doses are going to be covered, it is not a challenge for them. And by no means should they be trying to mix and match. What the data suggests is that you should not be mixing your AstraZeneca with your Moderna. So if you take your AstraZeneca, please wait.

“We have AstraZeneca vaccines more than enough coming in the pipeline. For those that will be taking the second dose and even for those who want to start with the first dose and complete with a second dose of AstraZeneca, we’re going to get enough vaccines.

“For those who have taken the moderna vaccine, they should also take the moderna vaccine as the second dose as the Nigerian government is not recommending mixing and matching,” he stated.

Deji Elumoye, Michael Olugbode, Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Dike Onwuamaeze in Abuja